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Bad Behavior

The bad online behavior of cyber criminals knows no bounds. And when they find a successful means of attack, they hone in on it, nabbing as many victims as possible. One of the latest criminal trends you need to watch out for: gift cards scams enticing you through popular social networking sites, like Facebook. Read on to learn more.

Understanding the Threat

Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are growing in leaps and bounds.

Facebook has recently been taking the lead as the most visited website in the United States — and is popular all over the globe, with over 400 million users worldwide. On the same note, Twitter, is said to have more than 100 million users worldwide, and — a testament to its worldwide user base — 60 percent of registered accounts are from outside of the U.S.

This kind of notoriety, though, makes these popular networking sites a prime target for various kinds of online bad behavior. And, that means you need to exercise caution and be aware of the security hurdles you might come up against as you click on and share links on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular sites.

The Bad Behavior

A trend that researchers are currently seeing on social networking sites is the proliferation of fake gift card pages and scams — where scammers attempt to fool victims into believing they can qualify for a gift card (basically free cash) in exchange for becoming a fan of a certain page, and often clicking on a link and submitting personal information.

This type of trickery has been seen in the past sent through e-mail, but has now made its way to social network, where the potential to rope in greater amounts of victims is strong. The aim of the scammers: netting revenue by generating Web traffic, as well as collecting personal information, which can then be used for identity theft.

Here's one example of the bad behavior: in mid April, IDG news service reported that a scam Facebook page offering fake $1,000 Ikea gift cards took in 40,000 victims1. Similar scams have been seen under the guise of Walmart, Whole Foods, iTunes, and Target gift cards.

Winning Strategies

What do you need to do to stay safe on networking sites?

“Be suspicious of anything that looks or feels strange online — whether it's an unfamiliar link in a message from a friend who hasn't contacted you in a while, or a promise of something valuable if you invite friends, provide personal information, or download software,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an interview with IDG News Service.2

To find out the steps you should be taking to stay secure on social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, refer to our article in this issue of Lavasoft News, “9 Ways to Control Your Privacy on Social Network Sites.

1http://www.pcworld.com/article/193905/ikea_gift_card_scam_takes _in_nearly_40000_facebook_users.html

2http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/342617/ikea_gift_card_scam_takes _nearly_40_000_facebook_users/

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BY THE NUMBERS
According to a recent survey, about 25% of households with a Facebook account don't use the site's privacy controls or were not aware of them. About 40% of social network users posted their full date of birth online, opening themselves up to identity theft.
Source: Consumer Reports' State of the Net 2010
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